2021-2022 Annual Report

[PDF version]

Table of Contents

  1. Message from the Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor
  2. Office of the Secretary to the Governor General at a Glance
  3. Highlights from 2021 – 2022
  4. Representing the Crown in Canada
  5. Representing Canada at Home and Abroad
  6. Encouraging Excellence
  7. Serving as Commander-in-Chief
  8. Bringing Canadians Together
  9. Office Operations
  10. Support from other Government Departments

Message from the Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor

I am proud to present the 2021-2022 Annual Report, detailing the work undertaken by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG). 

This was a challenging, yet rewarding, time for the organization. While navigating the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the OSGG provided essential support to the Administrator of the Government of Canada, from January 23, 2021, to July 26, 2021. The office then welcomed the historic appointment and installation of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon. It has been an honour and privilege to support the transition of Canada’s first Indigenous governor general into her role, and to welcome her to Rideau Hall. This has indeed been a year of firsts for our office and for Canada.

As with most Canadians, and the world, the OSGG adapted its work to reflect the realities of the pandemic. In-person ceremonies were replaced by virtual celebrations, constitutional duties were supported with minimal contact at Rideau Hall, and connecting with Canadians through virtual meetings and telephone calls filled the calendar. When pandemic restrictions eased, we supported the Governor General as she resumed travelling to meet with Canadians where they live, and to speak on important matters, such as reconciliation. We have also sought new and engaging ways to connect the Governor General with Canadians—through more social media, videos and interviews, as well as through new initiatives, such as “kindness calls.” This first year of rewards and challenges has laid the foundation for a mandate of significant importance; Her Excellency’s themes of reconciliation, environmental stewardship, mental health, youth, diversity and inclusion could not be more timely or relevant to Canadians.  

I hope that this report will allow you to further connect with the activities of this office and to follow the journey of Governor General Mary Simon in the years to come.

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Office of the Secretary to the Governor General at a Glance

The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) supports the governor general in fulfilling the constitutional, State and ceremonial responsibilities of the role. The OSGG is also responsible for planning and implementing the governor general’s program and the many activities undertaken with, and on behalf of, Canadians in communities across the country and abroad, as well as with the Canadian Armed Forces as commander-in-chief. These activities recognize outstanding achievement by Canadians and foster national identity, unity and pride.

  • The OSGG is headed by a secretary, who serves as senior advisor to the governor general and herald chancellor of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
  • The Policy, Program and Protocol branch helps the governor general connect with Canadians through the coordination of public events and visits in Canada and abroad. It supports the governor general in advancing their respective mandate themes, such as reconciliation or mental health in Canada, that help generate greater public awareness.
  • The Chancellery of Honours recognizes and honours Canadians with medals, awards and decorations. It brings to light the stories of Canadian successes and unsung heroes. The Chancellery is also home to the Canadian Heraldic Authority, headed by the governor general, which creates and records armorial bearings in Canada.
  • The Corporate Services Branch provides internal services such as financial and material management, and information technology.
  • The Human Resources Directorate provides innovative, ethical and solutions-oriented advice, guidance, recommendations and options to management within the OSGG. The HRD strives to create and maintain a healthy, diverse and inclusive workforce where employees are engaged and are actively contributing to the key activities undertaken by the OSGG.

The operating budget of the OSGG is approved by Parliament and the OSGG is therefore accountable to Parliament for its expenditures. These expenditures are made public through the public accounts process at the end of every year.

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Highlights from 2021 – 2022

The Right Honourable Richard Wagner served as the administrator of the Government of Canada from January 23, 2021, until July 26, 2021, when Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon became Canada’s 30th governor general.

Ms. Simon was installed as Canada’s first Indigenous governor general during a historic ceremony in the Senate of Canada. During her speech, she identified reconciliation, mental health, environment, youth, and diversity and inclusion as mandate priorities.

In the weeks following my arrival at Rideau Hall, my husband, Whit, and I were deeply moved by the Canadians who reached out to voice their concerns and aspirations for our country. If there was a common theme to these messages, it was a pride in Canada that an Indigenous person was now The Queen’s representative. There was also a sense that we were at a turning point in our country’s history.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, on reactions from Canadians following her installation

Despite various pandemic-related closures and public health restrictions, the Governor General continued to fulfil her duties and responsibilities, albeit in modified forms.

  • The governor general connected with Canadians through virtual and in-person events and ceremonies, regional and international visits, and meetings with dignitaries.
  • Close to 7 000 extraordinary Canadians were recognized through the Canadian Honours System.
  • More than 4 500 visitors visited Rideau Hall and the Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle of Québec.
  • New online educational activities were developed in order to offer virtual tours of the Citadelle.
  • The State rooms at Rideau Hall were invigorated with the installation of new art, including Point de Rencontre by Jean Paul Riopelle, Murmur by Meryl McMaster and a grouping of eight Inuit artworks.
  • The Canadian Heraldic Authority (CHA) created or registered a total of 161 emblems, including new heraldic emblems for the Tax Court of Canada; the Honourable Brenda Murphy, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick; the Municipalité de Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Quebec; and a series of regimental colours and guidons for the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • At the request of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the CHA created the Canadian emblem for the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, which was widely used to mark this significant milestone.

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Representing the Crown in Canada

As the head of State’s representative in Canada, the governor general exercises constitutional duties and acts as a safeguard of our parliamentary democracy. As such, the governor general is non-partisan and apolitical. One of the governor general’s most important constitutional duties is to ensure Canada always has a prime minister who has the confidence of the elected chamber. Also, by granting assent, the governor general plays a critical role in parliamentary bills becoming law.

In 2020, Canadians did not know they would face the crisis of a once-in-a-century pandemic. But, as always, no one should be surprised by how Canadians responded. We adapted. We helped one another. And we stayed true to our values. Values like compassion, courage and determination. Values like democracy. And in this difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice. Their direction is clear: not only do they want parliamentarians to work together to put this pandemic behind us, they also want bold, concrete solutions to meet other challenges that we face.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, 2021 Speech from the Throne

In addition to playing a key role in the Governor General’s installation ceremony, the OSGG supported Governor General Simon in fulfilling her constitutional duties throughout the 2021-2022 period, which included:

  • Supporting the Governor General in her transition to public life and during her installation ceremony in the Senate;
  • Dissolving the 43rd Parliament;
  • Swearing in new members of the Canadian ministry;
  • Delivering the Speech from the Throne to formally open the first session of the
    44th Parliament of Canada; and
  • Signing official documents, including Orders-in-Council, Instruments of Advice, bills, proclamations, commissions, agréments for foreign heads of mission, letters of credence and letters of recall.

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Representing Canada at Home and Abroad

The governor general represents Canada both domestically and internationally. Here in Canada, the governor general strengthens the country’s ties with other nations by officially welcoming incoming foreign heads of diplomatic missions. The governor general welcomes foreign heads of State and members of the Royal Family during their visits to Canada, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa or at the Citadelle of Québec. The governor general undertakes diplomatic travel at the request of the prime minister in order to support Canada’s international and diplomatic objectives.

In 2021-2022, with the support of the OSGG, Governor General Simon represented Canada by:

  • Meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in March 2022;
  • Welcoming new heads of mission to Canada by receiving their letters of credence;
  • Participating in a State visit to the Federal Republic of Germany in October 2021;
  • Taking part in discussions, both in-person and virtual, with numerous dignitaries and world leaders;
  • Undertaking working visits to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait in March 2022, to strengthen bilateral relations, share messages regarding the importance of wide international collaboration during periods of conflict, support Canada’s participation at Expo Dubai 2020, and meet with Canadian Armed Forces deployed abroad.

It was a great honour to meet with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Our Queen is such an inspiration in these difficult times, and it was a privilege to share with her the Inuit concept of ajuinnata, which means to never give up, that is guiding my work as governor general.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, on her meeting with Queen Elizabeth II

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Encouraging Excellence

The governor general presents honours and awards to acknowledge extraordinary people on behalf of all Canadians. From community volunteers, scientists and actors, to members of the military, scholars and next-door neighbours, thousands of Canadians are recognized each year for their outstanding contributions to our society. Recipients come from all walks of life but all share a desire to help others and achieve excellence. While the pandemic prevented most in-person recognitions, digital technology allowed the Governor General to honour Canadians from afar, as recipients attended virtual ceremonies directly in their homes in communities throughout Canada. The governor general is also head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, which recognizes Canadians through the granting of coats of arms, flags and badges as part of the Canadian Honours System.

You have made remarkable contributions to our country through your achievements, through your bravery, through your selfless service. I thank you for that; the people of Canada thank you. We come from many traditions, backgrounds and experiences. Our country would be unrecognizable without our differences. This diversity makes up our shared identity.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, during a mixed honours ceremony at Rideau Hall

In 2021-2022, with the support of the OSGG, Governor General Simon recognized extraordinary Canadians by:

  • Presenting hundreds of individuals with national honours through virtual events and through small, socially distanced honours ceremonies at Rideau Hall in September and December 2021;
  • Appointing 135 exceptional Canadians to the Order of Canada in December 2021; and
  • Delivering opening remarks at a virtual ceremony for the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case in March 2022.

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Serving as Commander-in-Chief

As commander-in-chief of Canada, the governor general plays a major role in recognizing the importance of Canada’s military at home and abroad.

The commander-in-chief offers support and encouragement to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and to their families and loved ones, while helping Canadians recognize the military’s past and present contributions to our country.

It is important to learn about the stories of soldiers, past and present. Though some stories may be hard to hear, it is our responsibility to bear witness. Our hope is that by recalling past sacrifices, we can look to a peaceful future. It is up to all of us. It is in our hands. It is our duty to keep the memory alive.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, on the Occasion of Remembrance Day 2021

In 2021-2022, with the support of the OSGG, Governor General Simon served in her capacity as commander-in-chief by:

  • Participating in the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and hosting an event to honour the 2021 National Silver Cross Mother;
  • Honouring Indigenous and non-Indigenous veterans during a ceremony at the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument;
  • Receiving the symbolic first poppy of the National Poppy Campaign in a ceremony at Rideau Hall;
  • Presiding over a virtual Order of Military Merit investiture ceremony for 97 outstanding members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • Visiting CAF members deployed to Qatar and Kuwait in support of operations in the Middle East; and
  • Virtually presenting a total of 60 Meritorious Service Decorations – Military Division, to outstanding members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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Bringing Canadians Together

In a country as vast and diverse as Canada, the governor general plays an important role in bringing people together in a spirit of goodwill and common cause. By meeting with Canadians in their communities and hosting events and activities at Rideau Hall in Ottawa and at the Citadelle of Québec, the governor general encourages dialogue, nurtures a sense of shared purpose, identity, compassion and achievement, and promotes respect for the diverse experiences, backgrounds and perspectives of all Canadians.

Building on the Crown’s foundational relationship with Indigenous peoples, the governor general is also in the unique position to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This is done by visiting First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada; celebrating Indigenous achievements and milestones alongside those of non-Indigenous Canadians; and drawing attention to the contributions of Indigenous peoples throughout Canada’s history.

As we strive to acknowledge the horrors of the past, the suffering inflicted on Indigenous peoples, let us all stand side-by-side with grace and humility, and work together to build a better future for all.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, on the occasion of National Truth and Reconciliation Day 2021

In 2021-2022, with the support of the OSGG—and despite various pandemic-related closures and logistical challenges—Governor General Simon connected with Canadians by:

  • Undertaking an official visit to Ontario to meet with local and provincial leaders;
  • Connecting with individuals who were making a difference in their communities through “kindness calls,” a new initiative that saw Her Excellency call unsuspecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast to thank them for their work over the radio;
  • Participating in the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which included a broadcast special;
  • Attending and giving remarks at an event to mark International Inuit Day, which included the official renaming of a park in honour of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook; and
  • Visiting the Ottawa Mission, where she learned about the shelter’s programs and services, and served meals to some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

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Office Operations

Governor General Support: $ 11,797,938

Internal Services: $ 8,781,014

Statutory (non-discretionary) Expenditures: $ 3,274,877

Total:  $ 23,853,829

In 2021-2022, the OSGG submitted its plan to implement a minimum target of 5% of the total value of its procurement budget to be awarded to Indigenous businesses, following a Government of Canada announcement made on August 6, 2021, by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services. The announcement stated that the Government of Canada is committed to renewing and strengthening its economic relationship with Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities by providing increased economic opportunities to First Nations, Inuit and Métis businesses through the federal procurement process.

This initiative was in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92, which is intended to create more opportunities for Indigenous businesses, managed and led by Indigenous people, to succeed and grow.

This 5% target is calculated from the total value of all contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses by the department, divided by the total value of all contracts awarded by the department. The OSGG will publish its performance against the 5% target in the 2024-2025 Annual Report.

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Support from other Government Departments

In addition to the support provided by the OSGG, six federal government departments and agencies are also mandated to support the activities of the governor general. The funds allocated to this role and spent directly by the following organizations from their budget appropriations amounted to $ 20,906,998.*

  • The National Capital Commission is responsible for the preservation, maintenance and capital construction projects for all of the official residences located in the National Capital Region, including Rideau Hall.
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police provides support in matters related to the security of and personal protection services for the governor general, domestically and abroad.
  • The Department of National Defence provides logistical support and transportation for the governor general in an official capacity.
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada provides the OSGG with accommodation and logistical support for the Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle of Québec and the Chancellery of Honours.
  • Global Affairs Canada advises the governor general on all matters related to foreign policy, and funds activities related to incoming State visits, the governor general’s international program and activities undertaken at the request of the prime minister.
  • Canadian Heritage is the lead department for such activities as Royal tours, State funerals, national memorial services and special anniversary celebrations.

* For further details on these departmental and agency expenditures, please contact the organizations involved, or visit their respective websites.

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ISSN 1927-5889
Catalogue No.: SO1E-PDF
© Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (2022).